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Apple’s iCloud Plus bundles a VPN, private email, and HomeKit camera storage

Apple’s iCloud Plus bundles a VPN, private email, and HomeKit camera storage


Bundled with existing iCloud plans with no cost increase

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Apple’s iCloud Plus logo.
Apple’s iCloud Plus logo.
Image: Apple

Apple is amping up iCloud with a new set of features called iCloud Plus. The cloud storage service will now come with access to a VPN, burner email addresses, and unlimited storage for HomeKit-enabled home security cameras.

The VPN, called Private Relay, will route your internet traffic through two relays in order to mask who’s browsing and where that data is coming from. Apple is trying to distinguish the feature from traditional VPNs — and if you ask, Apple will tell you it’s not a VPN at all — in part because it sends data through that second hop. That second hop prevents any one party, including Apple, from seeing all of your browsing data, Apple says.

The burner email feature, called Hide My Email, lets you create single-use email addresses that will forward to your actual account; that way, you can provide a junk email to a service you don’t trust in case it starts spamming you. Apple already offers a similar feature through Sign In With Apple.

Apple will also include unlimited storage for video from HomeKit-enabled home security cameras. You currently need to pay for at least 200GB of iCloud storage to record video from one camera, and you need to pay for a higher tier to support more streams.

The features are all supposed to be included with existing iCloud plans at no additional cost. Apple didn’t say if the feature would be available through its cheapest plans, though, which don’t currently support HomeKit video storage.

A laptop with the Digital Legacy screen pulled up. The page explains how to access data from another person’s account, saying that you need an access key. A smartphone has a screen pulled up saying “Request access” and that you will need to provide a copy of a death certificate.
Apple’s Digital Legacy feature for iCloud.
Image: Apple

Apple is also introducing new features to help manage your iCloud account. There’s a new recovery feature that allows Apple to message security codes to your friends or family if your own device is lost. There’s also a “Digital Legacy” program that lets you choose who can access your files after you die.

Unfortunately, Apple didn’t announce the iCloud update we were all hoping for: a free storage tier that starts above a paltry 5GB. Maybe next year.

Update June 7th, 4:30PM ET: Added comment from Apple on why it is not calling Private Relay a VPN.